Festival of Commonwealth Film 2018

The first ever Festival of Commonwealth film is on 14 and 15 April at the British Library, London. The programme is below, with some of the highlights.

The first-ever Festival of Commonwealth Film is dedicated to sharing cinema from across the Commonwealth with a UK audience. This year’s inaugural edition includes feature films with a human rights focus from the Bahamas, India, Malta, Pakistan, Tonga and the United Kingdom. The goal is to represent the cultural diversity and richness of the Commonwealth, demonstrate the change-making power of cinema, and initiate dialogue on human rights issues.

The Festival will screen seven feature films and a programme of shorts with human rights focus from all the regions of the Commonwealth. The array of films scheduled for screening include BAFTA-winning I am Not a Witch and British Oscar entry My Pure Land. Almost every feature film screening will be followed by a Q&A session with the filmmakers. The short film programme, produced by Commonwealth Writers, has a Pacific focus and will be shown on Sunday 15th.

The full list of feature films is as follows:

 Am Not A Witch [UK/Zambia] (fiction; 2018 BAFTA winner for Outstanding Feature Debut by a British Director)

My Pure Land [UK/Pakistan] (fiction but based on a true story; Britain’s official 2018 entry for the Oscars’ Best Foreign Language Film category)

Leitis in Waiting [US/Tonga] (documentary about Tongan transgender activists; European Premiere)

Not My Life [US production, shot in 14 countries including 5 Commonwealth nations] Doc about human trafficking and modern slavery, narrated by Glenn Close; UK Premiere

Cargo [Bahamas] (fiction about human trafficking in the Bahamas; European Premiere)

Simshar [Malta] (fiction about a Maltese fishing boat disaster against the background of the European migrant crisis; Malta’s first-ever official entry into the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars)

Lipstick Under My Burkha [India] (fiction, originally refused certification by India’s censors because of its “lady-oriented” story, about four women exploring their sexuality in modern India).

The short film programme will include two films from first-time writer-directors in Papua New Guinea, and two films from Tonga, one of which is by renowned women’s rights advocate ‘Ofa-Ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki.

The festival is supported by Commonwealth Writers (part of the Commonwealth Foundation) and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and has been designed and scheduled to lead up to and compliment the Commonwealth Peoples Forum and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Find out more and book tickets at www.fcfilm.net.


Inspired by true events, Cargo examines the world’s refugee crisis from a very local perspective. The largest Bahamian film project to date, this latest feature from Kareem J. Mortimer is a thrilling, vital call for empathy in troubled times.


I am not a Witch

Zambian-Welsh writer and director Rungano Nyoni’s first film is a surreal parable that encompasses that satirises the corruption of traditional beliefs both by traditional rulers and modern African bureaucrats, inherent misogyny and the powerlessness of women. Click title to link to review.


My Pure Land

Director Sarmad Masud’s first feature, is a Pakistan-set, female, Western-style gun battle based on an extraordinary true story. Click title to link to review.

Lipstick Under My Burkha

Indian black comedy written and directed by Alankrita Shrivastava and produced by Prakash Jha.

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